Penalty Kill faceoffs matter, but not enough to stress over

Jeff Veillette
December 20 2016 11:48AM

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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

Young Frederik Gauthier steps into the defensive zone faceoff circle against Ryan Kesler. Zach Hyman just responded to an admittedly rough situation by punching a guy, which the referees didn't like, putting the Leafs on a crucial penalty kill. Give up a goal, and the team is in huge trouble.

Kesler assembles his group the way he wants them. He knows that the four players Toronto have placed on the ice; Gauthier, Connor Brown, Roman Polak, and Matt Hunwick, aren't mobile enough to conclusively win a race if the play doesn't work out. He also knows that Gauthier doesn't have a ton of experience against him at the dot and that his handedness is just right for this set play.

The puck drops and Kesler wins the faceoff clean. Nobody knows what's going on. Cam Fowler skates into a now-open one-timer and blasts the puck past Frederik Andersen. 3-2 Ducks.

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NHLN Power Rankings: Dec. 19, 2016

Scott Maxwell
December 19 2016 02:56PM

It's time for your weekly dose of the NHL Numbers power rankings, a weekly look on the previous week in the NHL. I'll look at the five best and worst NHL teams thus far in the season, as well as the three best and worst players in the last week.

Note: All use of Corsi For and Expected Goals For are Score and Venue Adjusted, and at even strength. All stats come from Corsica Hockey, and NHL.com (don't worry, it's only the standings).

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Watch The Game Episode 20: Hockey History with Mike Commito

Watch The Game Podcast
December 19 2016 02:36PM

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Cam and Sam welcomed Hockey Historian and Laurentian University History Professor Mike Commito to the show to discuss the NHL's first season, centennial celebration, and an all-time draft. 

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Markus Granlund a Swiss Army Knife in the Canucks Middle Six

J.D. Burke
December 19 2016 12:50PM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

When the Canucks acquired Markus Granlund at last year's trade deadline, it was his well-rounded defensive game that caught their eye. A season later he's grabbing everyone's attention with crafty setups like the one that levelled the score in Friday's contest with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That assist was Granlund's 13th point in his 31st game of the season. Prorated over a full season, that's a 35 point pace. In today's NHL, that's second line production.

Granlund's been an everything man for the Canucks. He's produced consistently on a line marred by moving parts and restoration projects. That versatility is something Granlund's cognizant of; something he takes a great deal of pride in bringing to the lineup.

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NHLN Notebook: Tallon back in charge, Tortarella's new beginning, and L.A.'s goaltending issue

Christian Pagnani
December 19 2016 12:25PM

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Dale Tallon is back in charge of making roster decisions in Florida, as the Panthers have apparently shuffled their front office yet again. John Tortorella picked up his 500th career win, and based on the way his season has gone in Columbus, he could very quickly be shaking the negative narrative that has followed him around since his disastrous tenure in Vancouver.  

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